Herb: Red Ash

Latin name: Fraxinus pennsylvanica

Synonyms: Fraxinus lanceolata, Fraxinus pubescens

Family: Oleaceae (Olive Family)

Medicinal use of Red Ash:

The bark and leaves are a bitter tonic. An infusion of the inner bark has been used in the treatment of depression and fatigue. The root is diuretic.

Description of the plant:


20 m
(66 feet)


Habitat of the herb:

Streambanks, floodplains and wet upland sites, rarely in pure stands.

Edible parts of Red Ash:

Inner bark - cooked. The cambium layer can be scraped down in long, fluffy layers and cooked. It is said to taste like eggs. Inner bark can also be dried, ground into a powder and then used as a thickening in soups etc or mixed with cereals when making bread.

Other uses of the herb:

A fairly wind resistant tree, it can be grown as part of a shelterbelt planting. A red dye is extracted from the bark. Logs of wood can be beaten with mauls to separate the growth layers, these layers can then be cut into strips and woven into baskets. Wood - hard, heavy, rather strong, tough, elastic, brittle, coarse-grained. It weighs 44lb per cubic foot. Used for tool handles, furniture etc. The wood is of poorer quality than F. americana, though it is usually sold under that name.

Propagation of Red Ash:

The seed is best harvested green - as soon as it is fully developed but before it has fully dried on the tree - and can then be sown immediately in a cold frame. It usually germinates in the spring. Stored seed requires a period of cold stratification and is best sown as soon as possible in a cold frame. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in a cold frame for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions or a nursery bed in late spring or early summer of the following year. If you have sufficient seed then it is possible to sow it directly into an outdoor seedbed, preferably in the autumn. Grow the seedlings on in the seedbed for 2 years before transplanting either to their permanent positions or to nursery beds.

Cultivation of the herb:

Streambanks, floodplains and wet upland sites, rarely in pure stands.

Known hazards of Fraxinus pennsylvanica:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.